Playoff implications of Chargers-Chiefs (plus Week 11 outcomes to root for)

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The LA Chargers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in Week 11 in what could be a huge launching pad for the team. After overcoming injury after injury to bring a 5-4 record into the week, the Chargers are finally getting some players back and are catching the Chiefs at a good time.

A win would propel the Chargers to 6-4, which would be huge for the rest of the way. The Bolts essentially have to get to 10 wins to make the playoffs, meaning they would just have to finish 4-3 in the final seven to do so with a win on Sunday.

A loss puts the Chargers in a tough spot needing to finish 5-2 and essentially would completely close the book on the AFC West. The Chiefs would have a three-game lead and the tiebreaker with seven games to play.

It might only be Week 11, but this matchup between the Chargers and Chiefs on primetime will likely have huge implications in the AFC playoff picture when the dust eventually settles in two months.

The playoff implications of Chargers-Chiefs:

First, we have to look at the Chargers' side of things. Using FiveThirtyEight's model, we can pick whether the Chargers win or lose this game and see how it impacts their playoff chances. Without predicting any of the other games in the Week 11 slate, it is clear to see how big of an impact this game will have.

According to the model, if the Chargers win this game then they will having a 62% chance of making the playoffs this season. However, if the team loses then they will have just a 30% chance of making the playoffs. A win also increases their AFC West odds from 3% before Week 11 to 11% after Week 11.

The Chiefs' playoff chances are not going to go down much with a loss to the Chargers. Even with a loss, the Chiefs have a 97% chance of making the playoffs and an 89% chance of winning the division. However, their odds of finishing with the top seed and a first-round bye take a huge. With a loss, the Chiefs have only a 25% chance of securing the top seed in the AFC. With a win they would have a 59% chance.

In fact, if the Chargers beat the Chiefs and the Ravens beat the Panthers then the Chiefs would fall to the fourth seed in the AFC with the Dolphins (who are on a bye) taking over as the no. 1 seed in the AFC.

Other Week 11 outcomes Chargers fans should be rooting for:

We are going to address this in a purely mathematical sense. We could make the case for rooting for certain teams over other teams because we think that they will fall off. For example, a Jets win in Week 11 might be more beneficial to LA if we expect them to fall off at the end of the year. But the math does not always agree.

There is two important Week 11 games to keep an eye on; one being the Jets vs the New England Patriots and the other being the Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers. You could throw the Indianapolis Colts-Philadelphia Eagles game into that hat but the Colts won't be a playoff team at the end of the year and an Eagles win is all but a guarantee.

Assuming the Eagles beat the Colts, here are the Chargers' playoff odds (with a win) with the four different possible outcomes from those two games (not factoring in any ties):

  • Patriots and Steelers win: 67%
  • Jets and Steelers win: 66%
  • Patriots and Bengals win: 63%
  • Jets and Bengals win: 62%

As you can see, it is not a huge difference percentage-wise if the Chargers are just able to win in Week 11 against the Chiefs. The team would benefit from both the Jets and Bengals losing with a Bengals loss being the most important here. The Bengals are also 5-4 heading into Week 11.

The percentage-chance of making the playoffs if the Chargers lose is not changed all that much either, but it still changes and is worth monitoring.

  • Jets and Steelers: 35%
  • Patriots and Steelers win: 34%
  • Patriots and Bengals win: 32%
  • Jets and Bengals win: 29%

It is clear that the best thing that could happen to the Chargers is a win in Week 11 and a loss to the Bengals, giving them a one-game lead over the defending AFC Champions. If both the Patriots and Bengals lose then the Chargers would have a one-game cushion on both teams as the sixth seed, which is ideal.

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This all proves how important this week is for the LA Chargers. The difference between all going right and all going wrong could have a 38% swing in the team's playoff chances in the AFC.